From Rugby to Football: The History of Canadian Football

Creator(s): Canadian Football Hall of Fame and Museum

Rugby-Football and Canadian Football today are two different sports, but at one time their paths were intertwined. It started in 1865, when McGill University played English-speaking officers that were stationed there. When 1874 came, McGill developed their own set of rules, which are similar to today's Rugby and Football rules.

With the rules made, McGill decided that they wanted to challenge Harvard for two games of Rugby-Football, but there were a couple differences between the styles of game. The first of two games was played on May 14, 1874. The first game was played under the Harvard Rules, which Harvard won 3-0. The next day, McGill rules were used but the oval ball disappeared on the Harvard campus. The round ball was used, ensuring the game ended in a 0-0 draw. Students that attended the game were so enduring to our style, that many thought the McGill game was the better of the two. In the coming months, Harvard made a trip to McGill for the first intercollegiate game in Canada. Much to the dismay of McGill, Harvard won the game.

This virtual exhibit highlights the shared history of the game of football in North America, and how our distinctly Canadian style of play came to be, relative to our neighbours to the south.

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